I had a tough time choosing between studying abroad and taking an industrial placement. After speaking to my parents and lecturers, I decided that studying at the ANU was my best option – but I would try and get work experience in Australia. Travelling in Southeast Asia during the holidays had left a dent in my savings, but the high minimum wage (around $20 an hour) makes working part time a no-brainer.
Over the year, I had a couple of different jobs ranging from working at a Peruvian food truck, to writing for a children’s science magazine. In Canberra, the hospitality industry is thriving and it is fairly easy to find a café or waitressing job. I put an ad on Gumtree saying I was looking for work and my future boss invited me for an interview to work in a café on ANU Campus – it was as easy as that!
Finding a paid job that was relevant to my degree proved harder. I had spent the first semester building up connections and improving my marketing skills through volunteering positions. I followed Australian job websites and saw a paid internship on Ethical Jobs. I applied whilst I was travelling but interviewed for the position when I was back in Canberra. The company was open to Skype interviews. I would recommend looking before you arrive in Australia. It might mean you have a job secured before entering the country!
I worked in content marketing for an ethical superannuation fund. The internship was 15 hours a week and they were flexible with my university timetable. Compared to my previous UK based internship, I had more responsibilities. I was in charge of a project interviewing influential women in the clean energy sector. Internships in Australia seem to be paid well compared to the UK, where jobs often do not pay or only offer expenses. It was great experience, and it was an insight into the type of job I can expect when I graduate.
For anyone thinking of getting work experience on their year abroad, I have a few recommendations. I spoke to the career service at the ANU and they helped me think of different companies to apply for and the skills they would look for. Be open to opportunities and ask the right questions. I was paid to write for the children’s science magazine because the editor was a guest lecturer in my class. I asked to see the office to find out more about her role and she asked if I would write an article for the next issue. It was a freelance position and to receive payment, you need to have an Australian Business Number. Try and understand your rights as an international student. In Australia, you can work 40 hours every two weeks. You are also required to have a superannuation fund – something I only knew because I worked at one!
If you want to work part time whilst studying in Australia, I would definitely recommend finding an internship – I developed more skills than I would have done working in a bar or retail and showed that I can adapt to working abroad.
Written by Carys Tetlaw – Australian National University, Canberra, Australia